Category Archives: Coffee Stuff

State of the Shop #003

Out with June and in with July. We’re officially passing the halfway point into 2020. It’s hard to believe that all of this has been going on since March. Tomorrow, the United States of America celebrates Independence Day while a growing swath of the country is experiencing significant upticks in COVID-19 cases; particularly among the younger people that were previously not thought to be an issue… or so it’s being reported at this time. I guess what I’m trying to say is that it’s hard to know what to think and how to act. I like to think of myself as someone that’s good at taking in a vast amount of information from which I am able to process and navigate a path forward that makes an ideal win/win/win situation possible. Right now, it’s really difficult to do.

Again, I want to emphasize that Lauren and I are fine. We’re wearing our stylish masks and coordinating them with our different outfits. We’re healthy and getting by. After months of quarantine, our mental states have definitely had their ups and downs… But that pretty much goes for everyone. Lauren and I are avid accomplishers and slayers of to-do lists. As it turns out, Pandemics aren’t very hospitable to this lifestyle. It’s kind of hard to plan, forecast, and execute projects when you have no idea what the next week will bring. It’s times like these that we’re extremely thankful that we have the roastery. If we had not diversified our business, the situation would be much more dire. Regardless, the whole hurry up and wait feeling is for the birds.

We had originally set a tentative re-opening date for mid to late July, but it’s subject to change in response to a vast landscape of uncertain variables. Even as I write this update, there are states that are enacting indefinite quarantine measures for the service industry (specifically bars, restaurants, and cafes). It’s pretty much a nation-wide shit show and we’re all living in a wild west in terms of figuring out what to do. I’m still keeping up with all the news and updates, but by and large… the 24/hour news cycles are bored and repetitive.

So what’s all this mean…? To be completely honest, we don’t know. Lauren and I talk about the shop multiple times a day. It’s a constant troubleshooting exercise. It’s like playing chess on a board that is constantly changing. The lasting impact that the pandemic will leave on the cultural aspect of bars, pubs, and cafes is what I think about most. Even when the restrictions are lifted, how long will it be before people decide to gather in a crowded cafe with all of their friends, family, and associates? I know I’m not in any hurry to do that, so I can imagine others might feel the same way.

The hard part for us is that the coffee shop was designed for the very atmosphere in which we’re being told to avoid. As I mentioned in State of the Shop #001, the shop isn’t designed to operate as a carry-out option and while we might try that out for a time, it’s not something we’re interested in doing long term. When we created the coffee shop, we set it up to provide an exceptional product, atmosphere, and service to our community. We’re not interested in compromising those standards in order to pretend to be something that the space was never intended to be. We strive so hard to be so much more than just a series of liquids in disposable containers. So, while we’re still fine for now and weathering the storm… The future of the coffee shop will ultimately be determined by how the long term social distancing standards shape our society going forward. If it turns out that the coffee shop environment (as it was intended) is found to fly in the face of these new norms, we will take this feedback to heart as we steer The Caffeinery forward. Let’s just hope it doesn’t come to that. 🙂

Anyway, that’s enough REAL TALK for now. I imagine we’re all going to be bombarded by an assload of fireworks over the next couple of days. With everyone being cooped up for so long, it seems like a perfect time to blow shit up. With that… Lauren and I love you all. We’re still here. We’re still going forward with painting and renovations as if somehow we’ll pierce through this tidal wave and come out the other side unscathed. Let’s just hope the second wave is less menacing. <3

State of the Shop #002

So we’re now at the end of June now. This next week, we’re heading into July and the world is still in a state of massive change. That’s fine. It’s all fine. At least, that’s the mantra that most people are adhering to. Either way, the only path is forward. So, that’s what we’ve been doing. Lauren and I have been spending our time working at the roastery in addition to getting our coffee shop up to post-COVID-19 speed. We’ve made some aesthetically pleasing changes that have been on our to-do-list for a while, in addition to installing some new barriers to help improve the level of health safety for our staff and customers. We’ve still got a ways to go, but we’re making a lot of progress.

The politicians have been re-opening the economy at various rates and to various degrees over the past month. There is no real rhyme or reason to the opening… It’s sort of up to state politicians and their gut feelings. So, as you might expect… it’s a mess. The majority of states that have opted to open up earlier, are experiencing pretty significant upticks in COVID-19 cases and now there’s another push to slow openings and in some instances, states are opting to shut the service industry sectors back down. At the same time, a number of medical professionals are at opposite ends of the spectrum. Some are stating that it’s a big deal. Other s are stating that the media is making a mountain out of a mole hill. Normally, we could all turn to the raw data and form an educated opinion, but even the data is subject to polarization as many people don’t trust the collection methods. Indiana is set to open up without restrictions on July 4th. Now, this isn’t to say that Indiana is without cases… The original pre-requisite for re-opening was largely based on seeing a sustained downward trend in COVID cases. BUT, being that we never really reached that point, the politicians seemed to think that maintaining steady numbers was good enough to green light the re-opening.

So here we are… No one really knows what’s going on at this point because everyone with information has an agenda. Small businesses, like us, are basically left to scratch our heads and fend for ourselves. The state is getting everyone ramped up for a post-COVID celebration as if now’s the time for everyone to take off their masks and look to the future. There’s one huge problem though, a good number of the population is calling bullshit on this false bravado that’s being pushed by government. Don’t get me wrong, the majority of us realize that the economy is a factor and that things need to be produced and consumed… After all, that’s largely how the world works. BUT, the politicians calling these shots are doing so from a much safer distance. I’m sure that state governors would make different decisions if they were the one having to work checkout lines at grocery stores or drive-thru windows. Or maybe they genuinely wouldn’t. I have no idea.

Anyway, I know that’s a lot of ranting and it’s not really providing much clarification on the state of things… but that’s basically how it is. Essentially, we’re all on our own and have to make the best decisions for our own family and friends. To be honest, it’s not much different than how it used to be… We were always on our own. Now it’s just more apparent because the thin veil of security theater has been torn down.

Lauren and I are still being cautious with the re-opening of our coffee shop. Our plan is still to shoot for mid-to-late July. We’ll see how all of this pans out with the states surrounding us go back into lock down. As of this moment, it appears that the big push to re-open was premature.

Coffee Roasting has Begun!

I’ve met a lot of people throughout my life via various different outlets. Whether it be music, cooking, consulting, teaching, recording, or coffee… Sometimes I lose track as to which people are in tune with the various aspects of what I’m doing on a regular basis. I do a lot of things and I know that it can be confusing. That’s why I keep my blog and instagram. It helps to make sense of what would otherwise just look like chaos to anyone just taking a quick look. Anyway, if you’ve been keeping up with my shit in any sort of capacity, you would know that coffee is something that I take very seriously. Life’s too short to spend on the lackluster. With that being said, we’ve taken the next step when it comes to quality control at The Caffeinery and opted to start our own coffee roasting program. I’ve spent the last year reading every text on the subject that I could get my hands on. I’ve been talking with roasters, listening to podcasts, studying videos, and have essentially done everything possible to prepare me for this moment. As my wife often says, I don’t have hobbies, I have obsessions. There’s probably a good amount of truth in that. At the moment, I’m fully immersing myself into the art and science of roasting coffee. My goal is to create a program with objective scientific protocols that will ensure continuous improvement in quality that will ultimately improve every aspect of our offerings both at our physical shop as well as an eventual online shop. Stay tuned for more!